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When a home birth just won’t work out

If you have your heart set on a home birth, but circumstances dictate you must head to the hospital anyway, don’t despair — there are ways you can make the most out of a hospital birth and make it as homey as possible.

Mom in hospital with newborn

A hospital birth isn’t the end of the world, but if you’ve worked toward having a home birth, it can feel that way. So if you’re suddenly transferred to the hospital during labor, or if a medical issue springs up earlier in your pregnancy that will take you away from home and into the hospital, there are a few ways you can bring a little bit of home with you.

Bring it with you

Literally — bring some of your favorite homey touches with you. Even if you do have a home birth planned, make a mental checklist of things you’d really like to have with you in the event of a hospital transfer. A gown, your favorite pillows, a treasured stuffed animal or a comfortable blanket. A photo album or framed pictures you love are also good ideas that can make you feel more comfy.

Limit traffic

Hospitals are known for lots of foot traffic in and out of your room. Nurses, doctors, techs — vitals, blood draws, questions! Ask if you can cut down on the amount of medical professionals that need to enter your room, or see if they can coordinate or combine your visits.

Hire a doula

Many moms who hope to birth at home arrange for a doula to be there with them during labor and delivery. If you haven’t, consider hiring one for your birth. Birth doulas offer care and hands-on comfort for moms and their presence can really eliminate or reduce the need for many medical interventions.

Set the mood

Your home isn’t full of bright fluorescent lights, is it? See if you can turn the lights in your hospital room down. Grab your iPod or other music player. Maybe you already had a birth playlist — take it with you. These comforts may help your experience go so much better.

Look into a birth center

If you can, see if there is a birth center that will accept you as a patient. “Zero hospital vibe,” said Kelly, a mom of two. “But it had all the fun labor stuff! Yoga ball, birthing stool, huge tub with jets, birthing rocking chair, comfortable king-size bed. And every medical need necessary for a safe delivery. Was a dream come true.” Birth centers may not be an option for all moms (some will only accept low-risk moms, for instance) but it can be the next best thing to a home birth if you can get into one.

Go home as soon as you can

Arrange to get back to your home as soon as your caregivers will allow. Some medical situations will require longer hospital stays, but if your birth is uncomplicated and you and Baby are healthy, head home as soon as you get the green light. If you have to stay an extra day or two, make the most of it — have your loved ones bring your favorite takeout, watch movies while you get to know your new baby and try to enjoy your stay.

Your midwife or other care provider will have you and your baby’s best interests in mind, but with a few alterations, your hospital stay can be bearable — or even wonderful.

More on home birth

Home birthing celebrities
Home birth after cesarean: This mom’s success story
Home birth, without a midwife: Unassisted childbirth

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